Saturday, July 18, 2009

Doris Minton-McNeil's Acquittal And Other Ruminations

Yesterday, Judge Annie Christ-Garcia acquitted City-County Councilor Doris Minton-McNeil (D) on charges of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting law enforcement after a one-day bench trial conducted on Wednesday. Indiana Barrister has posted a copy of Judge Christ-Garcia's one-page ruling. The Democratic-elected judge offered no explanation for her finding of not guilty on the felony and misdemeanor charges. Democrats are, not surprisingly, very happy with the verdict. McNeil is the second member of the City-County Council in recent years charged with misconduct towards a city police officer. Both incidents involved African-American councilors, both were accused of being under the influence of alcohol and both accused city police officers of racism. Charges against former City-County Councilor Ron Gibson were later dropped after the prosecutor's office bungled his case.

It is disappointing that Judge Christ-Garcia did not explain her ruling yesterday. We can only deduce that she did not believe the testimony of several police officers. A detailed police report filed in the case paints a very negative picture of a belligerent McNeil spewing abusive and profanity-laced words towards police officers from the moment they arrived at her house to investigate her complaint that a knife-wielding pedophile was in her home and had attempted to cut her. A 9-1-1 recording of the call McNeil placed before police were dispatched to her home confirms the state of mind police described in their report. Police found no knife-wielding man in McNeil's home and a subsequent investigation of the allegations the man had sexually abused a juvenile turned up the fact that the alleged abuse had actually taken place years earlier, if it even happened at all. It is undisputed that Officer Emily Perkins injured her wrist after she and other officers claimed McNeil shoved her with both hands placed to her chest, causing her to fall against the house. Although McNeil denied suggestions she was drunk, she told police she had consumed two margaritas earlier. Police said McNeil repeatedly told them she couldn't be arrested because she was a city councilor and flashed her business cards at them. After police took her into custody, McNeil urinated herself while being transported for booking the police report alleged.

Judge Christ-Garcia's ruling yesterday gives IMPD a big black eye whether it is deserved or not. None of the news reports I've reviewed since the ruling came down have included a response from IMPD or any of the individual officers involved in the case. McNeil seemed contrite after testifying at her trial on Wednesday. "It's an unfortunate situation," McNeil told reporters. "I'm embarrassed about the public out springing of profanity that was exhibited by myself, and that's all I can say," she said.

McNeil's arrest generated lots of media interest. The fact that she was arrested and a 9-1-1 call and police report had been made available to the media helped fuel the coverage. I recently discovered another incident, however, involving a scuffle between a state senator and another man where no charges were brought against the elected official or the other individual. Although a publicly-accessible police incident report was filed, the case did not draw any media attention of which I'm aware. The New Year's Eve incident at the Columbia Club at the end of last year allegedly involved Sen. Brent Waltz (R) and another club member, Scott Weaver. Here'a what police wrote about that incident. The identity of bystanders who witnessed the scuffle between Waltz and Weaver have been redacted from the report by me:

ON WEDNESDAY 12 31 2008 AT APPROXIMATELY 1045 PM I, OFFICER ROBERT LAWSON, ALONG WITH OFFICER JOSHUA SHAUGHNESSY, BOTH OF THE IMPD, WERE DISPATCHED TO A PERSON ASSAULTED AT THE COLUMBIA CLUB AT 121 MONUMENT CIRCLE. UPON ARRIVAL I SPOKE WITH BRENT WALTZ, WHITE MALE 35 YEARS OF AGE, AND MR. WALTZ STATED THAT WHILE AT A NEW YEARS PARTY AT THE ABOVE MENTIONED ADDRESS, MR. WALTZ AND SCOTT WEAVER, WHITE MALE APPROXIMATELY 45 YEARS OF AGE, WHO HE HAS KNOWN FOR ABOUT 12 YEARS AND HAS HAD SEVERAL DISAGREEMENTS WITH OVER THE YEARS, WERE ENGAGED IN AN ARGUMENT AND THAT MR. WEAVER GRABBED HIM BY THE NECK WITH BOTH HANDS. MR. WALTZ THEN STATED HE TRIED TO PUSH MR. WEAVER OFF OF HIM. MR. WALTZ ALSO STATED THAT [Name redacted], WHITE FEMALE 35 YEARS OF AGE, ALSO TRIED TO SEPARATE THE TWO AND MR. WEAVER SHOVED [Name redacted], CAUSING HER TO SPILL HER DRINK. AFTER SPEAKING WITH [Name redacted] SHE ALSO STATED THAT WHILE THE TWO WERE ENGAGED THAT SHE TRIED TO SEPARATE THE TWO AND SHE WAS SHOVED BY MR. WEAVER, CAUSING HER TO SPILL HER DRINK ON THE FLOOR. I THEN SPOKE WITH [Name redacted, WHITE FEMALE 34 YEARS OF AGE, AND SHE STATED THAT WHEN RETURNING BACK TO THE PARTY FROM THE RESTROOM, SHE WITNESSED BOTH MR. WALTZ AND MR. WEAVER HAVING THEIR HANDS ON EACH OTHER'S NECKS. [Name redacted] THEN STATED THAT AFTER THE TWO WERE SEPARATED THAT [Name redacted] DELIBERATELY DREW BACK AND THREW HER DRINK AT MR. WEAVER, HITTING HIM WITH IT. [Name redacted] ALSO STATED THAT BOTH MR. WALTZ AND MR. WEAVER WERE BOTH EQUALLY COMBATIVE TOWARDS EACH OTHER. MR. WEAVER WAS NOT AT THE SCENE UPON MY ARRIVAL. BOTH MR. WALTZ AND MR. WEAVER ARE MEMBERS OF THE BUSINESS [sic]. PARTIES INVOLVED APPEARED TO BE INTOXICATED. I WAS UNABLE TO LOCATED [sic] ANOTHER WITNESS WHO WOULD SAY THEY WITNESSED THE ALTERCATION. THERE WAS NO COMPLAINT OF PAIN BY ANYONE AND NO VISIBLE INJURIES TO ANY OF THE PARTIES INVOLVED. A REPORT WAS DONE TO DOCUMENT EVERYONE'S SIDE OF THE STORY.
The police report notes that the involved parties appeared to be intoxicated. It's unclear to me why no arrests took place in the incident, other than as the police report notes, there was "no complaint of pain by anyone" and "no visible injuries." The police report makes no mention of one of the parties involved being a state senator, presumably because Waltz didn't draw attention to that fact while being questioned, unlike McNeil. Some might argue that the venue and the persons involved made a big difference in the decision not to arrest anyone. What do you think?

30 comments:

artfuggins said...

If Officer Emily Perkins was "injured" by McNeil, why did she not seek medical attention or present any evidence of any injury? I think this was a bogus claim by an officer who lost control of the situation....she also changed her testimony twice during the trial....the prosecutor either didn't prep her well or did a poor job of presenting her side of the case.

Advance Indiana said...

The police report indicates that Perkins had her injury treated at Methodist Occupational Health clinic. The news reports about the trial were very incomplete so I don't know what Perkins said at trial.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

"It is disappointing that Judge Christ-Garcia did not explain her ruling yesterday."
What is there to explain? They are both democrats. 'Nuff said.
Now of course fuggins will try to get you to look at his other hand while he changes the subject.
It is COMMON KNOWLEDGE that Officer Perkins was injured that night, and received medical treatment.
But, according to McNeil's attorney, since there are differing opinions as to what happened that night, obviously, Doris is NOT guilty!

Remember...liberals NEVER let FACTS get in their way.

Indy4U2C said...

I hope the Attorney General requests transfer to the Court of Appeals! The verdict is so far contrary to the evidence as to warrant appeal & disciplinary action by the Supreme Court.

indyernie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul K. Ogden said...

Indy4U2C, the State cannot appeal an acquittal. Once you're found not guilty, it's all over.

Advance Indiana said...

Did anyone notice that McNeil was represented by Mark Sullivan, the Dems appointee to the Marion Co. Elections Board? He formerly worked for Greg Hahn's law firm and used to be a prosecutor down in southern Indiana.

Indy4U2C said...

Thanks Paul for the correction. Perhaps the Supreme Court Commission on Judicial Qualifications needs to examine the case and how an acquittal of one elected Democrat by another Democrat that was contrary to evidence took place, and perhaps decide if that is conduct that is harmful to the judiciary.

Indy4U2C said...

I'd compare this verdict by a Democrat judge on a Democrat elected official charged with a violent crime as synonmous to the verdict of the Democrat senate in the impeachment of a Democrat president (again, with overwhelming evidence for conviction)...

It stinks of Machine politics and is morally corrupt!

artfuggins said...

...and Advance Indiana...If I were wrongly accused and arrested, I would look for an experienced capable attorney. You surely are not finding faulty with Doris Minton-Mcneil doing that.....

Advance Indiana said...

I would tell you that if you don't like the decisions of an elected judge, then oust the judge at the next election; however, this is Marion County. The party leaders slate judicial candidates in the backroom for a primary election and then voters can, at most, defeat one of the judicial candidates on the ballot. The rest of the candidates are assured of winning in November once they clear the primary. And did I mention that both parties make the judicial candidates cough up a big slating fee to get the nod of the political insiders? It ranks as one of the worst systems in the country for choosing judges, even worse than Cook County, Illinois. Until the Indiana State Bar Association and Indianapolis Bar Association get off their butts and demand changes from the legislature, the same system producing the same people will continue unabated.

Advance Indiana said...

Let me make it clear that I am not saying the judge reached the wrong decision in this case. I was not present at the bench trial and can only rely on news reports to describe the evidence presented. The pre-trial information contained in the police report and the 9-1-1 call presented what appeared to be a strong case for the prosecution. Unless you were present and able to observe the credibility of the witnesses, it is hard for us to critique the decision. I take it from your comment, art, you were present for the trial?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Indy4U2C, if the JQ starts looking into incorrect decisions not support by the evidence, there is going to be a mighty long line.

Advance Indiana said...

I should remind people that this case was handled by a special prosecutor, who in this case was a Democrat. It has been Brizzi's policy to pass all of these cases involving elected officials off to special prosecutors. I think that is wrong. This happened in Ron Gibson's case, and it happened with the investigation of the Marion Co. Coroner's office, an investigation that appeared to fall into a black hole. Remember that when charges were filed in Gibson's case, it bounced from court to court as each judge recused his or herself from the case.

Jon E. Easter said...

If you wish to criticize Judge Garcia's decision, that's fine. If you wish to note that her decision might have been politically motivated, that's fine too. I don't know enough about was presented to her in the courtroom to make a decision, so I will reserve judgement. Knowing Judge Christ-Garcia, my instinct is that she did not rule politically. It is perhaps disappointing that she did not explain the ruling more.

That aside, it personally disappoints me, Ernie, that you would choose to attack her personally. Judge Christ-Garcia is a spectacular mother, a wonderful person, and an extremely competent jurist.

Furthermore, by approving it, AI, you are giving the ok to attack people personally on your blog. I disallowed someone's personal attack on Mayor Ballard on my blog the other day, and I urge you to do the same. It's time to clean up this mess.

Jon E. Easter said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Advance Indiana said...

Unlike many, he puts a name to his comments so people know who to confront if they don't like what he has to say. I think he did cross the line, however, and I have removed his comment. I certainly don't allow anything approaching what I've read in the comments posted on the mainstream news' websites and a few other local political blogs.

artfuggins said...

Advance Indiana, you are correct. The Indystar.com blog is filled with hate, venom and so many inaccuracies that it is a shame that it is allowed to exist.

Jon E. Easter said...

Fair enough, AI.

indyernie said...

I think this ruling was politically motivated and I think a deal was made.
Democrat defendant, democrat County Clerk, democrat prosecutor, and a democrat Judge.
The Judge may be a great mother but who cares the world is full of great mothers and fathers. The Marion County justice system is still sending the wrong message. It won't be long before another young man resists an Officer and is hurt or killed. The democrats will be blaming everyone except themselves.
I'll be at The CCC meeting Monday night people know who I am. If McNeil doesn't appreciate my opinion then she is free to tell me and so can anyone else involved.
I don't hate her or anyone else. I just think the fix was in from the start and that's my opinion.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Well, there goes fuggins again, with his "sleight-of-words" tricks..."If I were wrongly accused and arrested,..."
WHO SAID WHE WAS WRONGLY ACCUSED AND ARRESTED? The FACTS, including the 911 call, show otherwise.

Citizen said...

If given the opportunity to testify in court, I assure you that I would have validated the officer's testimonies. Doris Minton-McNeil was extremely intoxicated when arrested and was very rude at the Arrestee Processing Center as well! She refused to cooperate with the intake process and was locked down due to being out of control. She claimed that she did not have to comply with the rules because of her political status! Pull the tapes, it's all recorded! I have no doubt in my mind that the decision was political.

artfuggins said...

Court cases cannot be decided on theories and opinions but rather on facts. No evidence was ever submitted that she was drunk. She admitted to have two margaritas so that might explain the smell of alcohol. The court cant decide on basis of "maybe" "could be" "possibly" or "I think" Perhaps if IMPD had give a breathalyzer test, then there might have been some evidence..one way or the other.

Indy4U2C said...

artfuggins, you are either posting in total ignorance or disregard for fact. When you LIE in your post: "No evidence was ever submitted that she was drunk." I call you not only a liar, but must question your intelligence.

Did you listen to her on the 911 recording? -Obtain the video/audio footage of her at the Arrestee Processing Center? Did you know she URINATED ON HERSELF? See the racist violent statments she made in a rage? I call this solid evidence of drunkenness!

Baloo said...

In the case of McNeil, her own attorney stated that he did not feel the Officers acted outside the scope of the law... Which to me translates to "My Client is Guilty, but I was able to get her acquitted."

In the case of the Columbia Club, The Columbia Club is a private club, not a public place. The areas of the Columbia Club are not viewable from a public point. Therefore Public Intoxication Charges would not apply. Also if there is no visible injuries an Officer can not make an arrest, however advise the persons involved how they may pursue charges. Judging by the police report I would suggest that it was mutual combat and thus the best solution is to separate the parties involved.

One case has A public place, another has a private place. The comparison is apples to oranges.

Advance Indiana said...

I beg to differ with you. McNeil was arrested on her own property. She was not charged with public intoxication, presumably because she was not in a public place. The Columbia Club's categorization as a private club would not exempt it from the "public" realm. The fact is you don't have to be a member to go into the club and have a drink at the bar or stay overnight in one of their rooms. It is a public place, even if it is a private club.

Baloo said...

"IC 7.1-5-1-3
Public intoxication prohibited
Sec. 3. It is a Class B misdemeanor for a person to be in a public place or a place of public resort in a state of intoxication caused by the person's use of alcohol or a controlled substance (as defined in IC 35-48-1-9).
(Formerly: Acts 1973, P.L.55, SEC.1.) As amended by Acts 1978, P.L.2, SEC.702; P.L.213-2001, SEC.2."

"IC 14-15-8-3
"Intoxicated" defined
Sec. 3. As used in this chapter, "intoxicated" means under the influence of:
(1) alcohol;
(2) a controlled substance;
(3) any drug (as defined in IC 9-13-2-49.1) other than alcohol or a controlled substance; or
(4) any combination of alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs;
so that there is an impaired condition of thought and action and the loss of normal control of an individual's faculties.
As added by P.L.1-1995, SEC.8. Amended by P.L.33-1997, SEC.16; P.L.69-2009, SEC.4."

Under McNeil's own admission she was Intoxicated as defined by the State of Indiana by consuming alcoholic beverages. Under the State of Indiana's definition anyone consuming can be cited for violation of the law. Just says you have to be "As used in this chapter, "intoxicated" means under the influence of:(1)alcohol;"

It does not say someone must be "drunk" it says under the influence which I suggest if you have one drink, one sip you are under the influence.

Baloo said...

AI,
Even if on her Property she would be visible from a public place. IE the Street, Sidewalk, ect... Which McNeil happened to be. She met Officers in the yard upon their arrival among other things.

The Columbia Club would fall under the same laws as a Bar would. An Officer can not just go in an arrest someone at a Bar for Public Intoxication while they are in a bar.

Baloo said...

AI,
If I recall correctly McNeil was originally charged for Public Intoxication, however those charges were dropped by the Prosecutor's Office to remove the chance of a plea bargain of the less charge in favor of the high charge of Resisting Law Enforcement resulting in Injury.

Lord Peter said...

M-M can't be charged with public intoxication for being drunk at home. Your home is not "a public place or a place of public resort."

It doesn't matter whether anyone can see you from the street.

Also, being intoxicated is more than just having one drink; there has to be:

"an impaired condition of thought and action and the loss of normal control of an individual's faculties." (Although it appears that this standard would be met in this case...)

But, again, no PI because she wasn't in a public place. None of the testimony about how drunk she was makes any difference if she was drunk at home.

As to the battery, it would be interesting to know what testimony, exactly, was presented at the trial.